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Research Colloquium

Every semester the Gender Studies Program hosts an intimate faculty research colloquium attended by faculty and staff of the College of the Pacific.

In this event, two faculty members who teach courses in the Gender Studies Program are invited to speak about their research that is related to or has implications for gender issues.

"These research colloquia are a great way to find out about the exciting scholarship going on among gender studies faculty at Pacific," said Dr. Gesine Gerhard, Former Director of the Gender Studies Program.  "The lively discussions provide feedback to the presenters from a multi-disciplinary perspective."

Below we highlight research from the spring 2011 Research Colloquium.

"Fighting Fit": Young People, Sporting Risk / Health and the Construction of Embodied Identities
By Dr. Lara Killick

 Dr. Lara Killick

Lara Killick, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, 
Sport Sciences Department

While a considerable volume of research has championed the perceived link between youth, sport and good health, much less is said about the degree to which regular and continued participation in sport may be harmful to young people's physical, social, psychological and moral health. Dr. Killick's research explores young people's sporting risk encounters and examines the role played by these experiences in the construction of a host of embodied identities.  It draws on data generated by 1,651 children located in 6 secondary schools in Churchill, a major city in the United Kingdom.

Drawing on existing research on a sporting "culture of risk" Dr. Killick discussed young people's propensity to play through pain and with injuries in their quests to be identified as "hard," "sporty," "more mature" and to "keep fit not fat." This presentation paid particular attention to young people's use of pain and injury experiences to construct gendered identities. Dr. Killick's work showcased the absence of a significant gender gap in responses to sporting risk encounters and explored the similarities evident in young men's and women's narratives surrounding sporting pain and injury.   

Her data illuminates the powerful discourse of "healthism" and peels back the rhetoric surrounding young people, sport and health.  In so doing, it highlights several ways in which young people may be placing their short- and long-term health at risk through their everyday sporting practices.

"Repairin' Breast Cancer" 
By Dr. Joanna Albala

 Dr. Joanna Albala

Joanna S. Albala, Ph.D.

Former Director of Research Initiatives & Strategic Partnerships

After receiving her Ph.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Albala took a postdoctoral fellowship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At that time, the Lab had an active Genome Center. Dr. Albala's research was involved in gene discovery that led her to discover a novel DNA repair gene that was named Rad51B after its similarity to another protein, Rad51.

These proteins are involved in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks caused by ionizing radiation, ultraviolet light and normal cellular metabolism. Rad51 is involved in the same cellular pathway as the BRCA2 protein, which if mutated, causes familial breast cancer.

Dr. Albala's laboratory at Pacific studied the role of the Rad51 family of proteins in cancer cell lines. She and her colleagues have also looked for additional biomarkers of breast cancer and have identified an assay (test analysis) to screen for a panel of proteins that may be diagnostic for metastatic breast disease. A hand-held device has been developed to read this assay, and Dr. Albala hopes that someday this device may be used in the clinic or doctor's office to improve the physician's ability to diagnose breast cancer.